Friday, May 15, 2009

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Slave Exercises, Part 2 of 3: Flexibility

It doesn't take much thinking to realize why flexibility is an extremely important attribute for a slave to have. The vast majority of M/s relationships, I suspect, involve some degree of bondage and demanding sexual positions. Many also involve holding slave positions for various lengths of time (mental bondage, if you will), and slaves who have done this know that any position, if held long enough, will get uncomfortable, sometimes to the extreme. So, any advantage you can get is good, and flexibility is definitely one of those advantages.

So how do you get flexibility?

Well, to some degree, our flexibility is innate. Some of us are born with more of it than others. But saying "I'm just not that flexible" is not going to get you off the hook as a slave. No matter what your genetic level of flexibility, it can be improved by doing flexibility training. And if you train seriously enough, consistently over time, you will be amazed at the gains you can make in the flexibility department.

The amount of flexibility you gain is directly proportional to the amount of time you spend training + how smartly you train. Therefore, if you don't have much time, then you need to make sure you're using what little time you have as optimally as possible. If you're doing a mediocre flexibility routine, you are going to have to put more time in to see the same result that you would get in a shorter time with a better routine. And, of course, the best scenario is one in which you devote significant amounts of time to really effective stretching exercises. But first things first.

The first thing is to make sure you are stretching in the first place. To any degree. Even just five minutes a day can get you started on the road to a better slave's body. If you're doing cardio and/or weight training, then the best time to do static stretches (non-yoga stretching) is probably immediately after your cardio or weight routine, while your muscles are still warm. However, not having time to stretch during that optimal window is not an excuse not to stretch at all. You can stretch after work, before dinner, before bed, first thing in the morning (although this is harder) or anytime you have a relatively empty stomach and a few minutes.

I'm not going to spend time here going into which stretches you should do. You can find ideas in many places on the web. What I will share, however, is my own experience regarding how you can maximize the effectiveness (in terms of increased flexibility) of whatever stretches you do choose to do. So, when doing a static (non-yoga) stretching program, I think it is wise to keep in mind the following points:
  1. It is better to do less stretches and hold each for a longer period of time, than to do more stretches and hold each for a shorter period of time.
  2. It is better to do less stretches and repeat each one than to do more stretches and do each just once.
  3. To really increase flexibility, it is best to hold each stretch for a full 30 seconds, breathing and relaxing deeper into the stretch as the seconds go by. If you can't do this, it is better to hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds than to just hold them for a few seconds and move on to the next.
  4. Although you can make gains in flexibility by doing just one stretching session a day, doing more than one session will increase your flexibility faster.
  5. It is possible to irritate and even injure muscles by stretching too much, too soon. Work up to multiple sessions. In the beginning, do a single session with several simple stretches, holding each for 30 seconds and repeating each stretch just once. Do not stretch past the point of pain. Be patient with your body. If something starts to hurt too much, back off a bit. If you are consistent with your stretching program, your flexibility will improve.
  6. To make the most possible gains, work up to one stretch for each muscle group, held for 30 seconds 3 times, 3 times a day. If this is too much, do what you can. It is far better to stretch even a little bit than not to stretch at all.
  7. Make your flexibility program well-balanced, e.g. don't stretch the front of the body more than the back of the body. This helps prevent injury and body pain from uneven flexibility.
If you follow the above guidelines, I can virtually guarantee you will see results.

Now, I'll venture into different territory: Yoga.

Yoga is one alternative to just doing static stretches. Practicing yoga asanas (poses) according to virtually any yoga tradition will help you to gain both flexibility and strength. Many of the poses also help increase balance, which can be useful in some slave positions.

I have practiced yoga off and on for over twelve years, studying mostly Iyengar yoga and ashtanga yoga. In my opinion, each yoga system has its own strengths and weaknesses, but when you're beginning, it's best to pick one and stick with it for a while.

Although yoga increases flexibility, it is really a whole different animal than static stretching. There are almost always muscle groups engaged that are helping to pull a position into the proper alignment. This generates a stretch in some muscle groups, and a contraction in opposing muscle groups. Because of the opposing contraction, generally yoga poses feel a little different than a static stretch. But the flexibility achieved is the same, if not more.

Yoga poses are generally held long enough to get a good stretch, and are usually repeated. Also, because of the variety of poses done, you may be practicing yoga for up to 1 1/2 hours in a single session, which negates the need for additional stretching sessions in the same day. If you like to get all your work done in a single chunk, then a daily yoga class or routine may be ideal for your flexibility program.

I have spent periods of time during which I did yoga, and periods of time during which I did static stretching. I'm currently doing both -- yoga on some days, and static stretching on other days. My ADHD brain craves variety, so this approach works well for me.

Regardless of what type of stretching I do, any time I put into it definitely has a payoff. I can drive Master wild just by doing certain stretches in front of him, and little things like being able to fold virtually in half in bed can go a long way. When at optimal flexibility, I am less fatigued while restrained, and while holding slave positions. And last but not least, I am building a healthy body, one that will have less risk of many types of injury throughout my life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Favourite Belly Dancers

There are a lot of great belly dancers right now. But the following are the ones that continuously inspire me the most. They are a delight to watch, and to learn from:

Since I can't be one of these women, I'll have to make do with trying to emulate them. Someday, I will be a skilled dancer with my own style, and they will be the ones who galvanized me to keep on trying, no matter what.

Slave Exercises, Part 1 of 3: Cardio Fitness & Muscle Tone

Just very recently, I am being taken in hand (by Master and myself) and gently guided back onto the exercise wagon, a vehicle that I have fallen off of too many times during the last few years. I don't believe in beating myself up, so I won't. And my lack of exercise lately doesn't mean I lack knowledge. I was extremely active throughout my twenties and early thirties, and have a good working knowledge of exercise physiology for a number of activities. So, to commemorate my return to a "slave exercise" routine, I thought I'd share the basics of it, for anyone who's interested in achieving the level of fitness that should be expected of a slave.

I'm going to write about this in three separate articles:

1) The slave's overall fitness -- his or her cardiovascular capacity as well as muscle tone and overall body control.

2) The slave's flexibility.

3) The slave's control and strength of the intimate muscles.

So. Why does a slave need to be cardiovascularly fit?

Well, there are lots of reasons. First of all, it is crucial for good general health, and what Master or Mistress doesn't want a healthy slave? Second, it is essential for weight control. I don't believe every person should have a "model-thin" body, but I do believe we should take care of our bodies and achieve the optimal shape that our unique genes prescribe for us. In addition to the first two reasons, a fit slave is far better able to withstand the rigours of intense play and rough sex, which are often on the BDSM menu. And finally, specific types of exercise can enhance a slave's desirability and ability to please a Master or Mistress.

Say your Master or Mistress likes to look at a muscular body type. What would keep you from serving him or her by doing strength training to tone and shape your muscles? Say your Master or Mistress likes to watch you move seductively. What would keep you from taking up yoga or dance so you can learn better control of your body or movements?

In my opinion, the only things keeping us from this are laziness and, in some cases, resentment. Regardless of whether you suffer from just one of those things, or both, now is the time to wake up and realize they are both the wrong attitude. If you're in a M/s relationship, then I assume you're in it for a reason. If you're so ambivalent about your relationship that you don't want to work on your body for your Master or Mistress, then I think it's high time you either fix the problems in the relationship or get out of it. But if you're going to stay in it, the appropriate commitment is to give your Master or Mistress your all, and the appropriate attitude is to be open, forgiving, dutiful, devoted, and willing to go to whatever lengths you're capable of to be the best slave you can be to the person who owns you.

So. What can you do for cardio? Well, basically anything that gets your heart rate up and that you can sustain for a reasonable length of time, say 20-60 minutes (although in the beginning you might start with shorter times). The activity should leave you just slightly winded -- to where you know you're exercising, but you could still carry on a conversation if you wanted to.

For me, right now, this is accomplished by two activities: walking and belly dance. In my 20's, I used to be a runner, but problems with my feet forced me to stop running and take up racewalking. I did that for a while (even competitively), and I still love to walk, even if I'm nowhere near as fit as I was back then. Walking is easy on the human body -- we are made to walk for long periods of time, and can generally do so without wearing down our joints (unless we are extremely overweight, in which case we must proceed with caution). But whatever our weight, it can still be done, if we are smart and careful not to do too much too soon.

When walking starts to seem too easy, we have several options: walk faster, walk hills, or run (if our body type permits it). Regardless of which option(s) we choose, we have a virtually unlimited space in which to expand our level of fitness.

Another benefit of walking is that it increases muscle tone in the legs, and what Master or Mistress doesn't want a slave with shapely legs?

Yes, all around, walking is one of the best forms of fitness out there. I am doing it more and more, and I highly recommend it to anyone.

The second type of fitness I'm doing is more specialized. Belly dance is, obviously, not for everyone. Although I think just about any female slave would benefit from it, the range of potential dancers does narrow when it comes to men. There are male forms of belly dance, but I think it would depend on a man's Master or Mistress as to whether it should be pursued. So, for purposes of this article, I'm going to assume the potential belly dancer is female -- please forgive me if that offends anyone.

What do I love about belly dance? Everything!!!

It helps me to move more sexily (otherwise I tend to be somewhat awkward). It has taught me to move my hips, pelvis, and torso in ways that I previously did not know were possible. It has amazingly profound effects on the abs, back, thighs, buttocks, and intimate muscles. And it drives my Master wild.

Need I say more? I think not.

If you're in doubt as to whether or not you can do it, trust me -- you can do it. If I can do it, you can do it. I'm one of the most uncoordinated people on the planet, and yet with a little determination and practice, I seem to be able to master any move, and perform it as well as anyone. It may take me a little more practice than it would take others, but so what? All of the practice is excellent exercise!

I, personally, have learned (so far) from DVDs, although I hope to begin taking lessons in the near future. I still think, though, that anyone can get a good start from working with DVDs, if they work daily and are determined enough. Optionally, most major cities offer belly dance classes in one or more dance studios, where you can receive direct professional instruction from the get-go.

If you do plan to work with DVDs, all you need are the DVDs themselves, a room with a decent amount of moving space (you dance with your whole body and move around; real belly dancers never just stand in place), and a full-length mirror in your dancing room, so you can compare the way you look doing the moves to the way the people in the DVD look (this is critical).

What DVDs should you use? Well, I won't steer you to a particular one per se, but I will steer you to a web site. Every DVD I use (and I now have 8; I started with 2) are on this web site: World Dance New York. I trust this company and so far everything I've purchased from them has been outstanding.

I'll follow this segment with a post specifically about my favourite belly dancers, which will include clips showing what is possible -- intense beauty and sensuality -- in belly dance:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Can a Loner Be a Slave?

loner   [loh-ner]
A person who is or prefers to be alone, esp. one who avoids the company or assistance of others.

Whether I like it or not, the above definition describes me all too well. I think my "lonerism" is part nature and part nurture -- I was born with a tendency to seek solace in my own company, and then I was raised to be independent, to not need anyone or anything, to not share my deepest feelings and thoughts with anyone.

Well, I certainly have defied that last one by baring my soul to the world, haven't I?

But my writing aside, I still have a tendency -- no, a need -- to withdraw on a regular basis. It enables me to think, to make sense of a world that seems to move too fast for my comprehension.

When I'm in the presence of others, even my beloved Master, my attention is always a bit scattered. There's a part of me monitoring what the other person or people may be thinking or feeling, based on how they're behaving. There's a part of me adjusting my behaviour and reactions to interact with the others the way I want to. There's a part of me listening and trying to understand them. There's a part of me trying to figure out if there's any way I can help them. And there's yet another part of me trying to make sense of it all for my own understand the interactions I've just had and file them in the appropriate place within the annals of my mind.

So, it's no wonder I can get overwhelmed, especially if I'm in a public place where there are lights, sounds and movement to process too, or if I'm trying to interact with more than one person at a time.

Always, a time comes when I have to retreat and regroup. I learned even when I was a child that this was a necessity for me, and that I couldn't function without my alone time. And despite some of the tumult I've experienced as an adult, I've kept that commitment to myself. I simply cannot keep up with and participate fully in life if I don't regularly stop and take time to "grok" what's going on.

Enter a new challenge: how can someone like me survive in the closeness and constant interaction of a Master/slave relationship?

Quick answer: I can't. I can pretend to, for a while, but eventually I will go into overload and break down.

Longer answer: 

I can't.

I wanted to, initially -- I thought I could. Master's love was the most intense, most unconditional love I had experienced since my mother (whom I lost when I was 14). Even though he can be stern and sadistic, at heart he is a kind and gentle person who loves me to bits. I had hoped that since I finally had what I had wanted all my life -- real, true love with a man who was not only wonderful, but also a Dom -- I would be able to "keep up" with the demands of relating with my Master 24/7. But unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case.

Not too long after we moved in with each other, I found myself taking longer and longer afternoon "naps." To be precise, I would not nap for the entire time. But I would stay closeted in the bedroom with the door closed, simply because I desperately needed to get away for a little while.

This had nothing to do with my Master; it was no failing of his. He is a wonderful person and a delight to be around. Rather, it was about me and my need to be alone -- a need I still don't seem to be able to adequately explain to him without him feeling rejected on some level (which is part of the reason I'm writing this).

Not too many months went by before I was able to be honest with Master about what was going on with the naps, and tell him that I needed alone time on a regular basis. And that didn't even necessarily mean that we had to be in separate geographical locations or even separate rooms. It just meant that I needed a break from the interaction -- from having to process the interaction. I don't know if any non-loners can understand this, but I would be willing to bet just about any loner can.

Since then, I have told him when I need to be alone. And he respects that. It's hard, because even during those times, he's still my Master, and I'm still his slave. I am subject to his commands, and our protocols are still in place. So Master can sometimes feel confused about whether to approach me to follow a protocol...although I know after yesterday evening he's not as confused as he previously was.

As I tweeted once, we have a protocol that before he leaves the house, he says goodbye to me not with a kiss, but by smacking my tits. He says, "I'm leaving," and I lift up my shirt and prepare to be smacked. This reminds me of my place and reminds him of what he has. We both like this ritual.

But yesterday evening, he went out to the store, and didn't break into my "alone time" to say goodbye in the usual way. He ended up feeling very empty and off kilter, and to some extent, so did I. So this morning he stated he wasn't going to do that again -- we would be following protocol whether it's my alone time or not. And I wholeheartedly agree. I am, and I want to be, a 24/7 slave...not 23/7 or 20/7 or whatever the case may be. My alone time is not radically disturbed by having a brief interaction with Master; rather, I think it is enhanced.

My need for aloneness is only disturbed when we interact intensely over a period of a day or more...then it starts to become just too much to process. And although it might be easier for our relationship if I were different, I'm not. I'm a loner, and I can't be any other way.

Master, can you ever truly understand that I am not trying to get away from you so much as trying to get away from the speed of life? I hope so, for I love you with everything I have and everything I am, and I hate to see you hurt or disappointed even the slightest bit.